Swedish music streaming giant Spotify has long used its free, ad-supported tier as a way to eventually ensnare listeners in its more fully featured paid tier. But lately, it has been giving unpaid users better and better functionality.
Earlier this year, the company allowed unpaid mobile users to skip songs inside a series of curated playlists — upending years of exclusively radio-style playback on for mobile for those without premium subscriptions. Now, the company has announced that free users can expect even more improved functionality, in the form of Spotify Connect access.
The company’s multiroom audio system, which allows anyone on the same network as a connected speaker to stream their favorite tunes by simply selecting the speaker inside the Spotify app, was previously exclusive to paid users. This provides yet another incentive for those investigating music streaming services for the first time to check out Spotify first — something that is very important for the company, which has long relied on its tens of millions of unpaid users to eventually becoming paying ones.
It also might help give them a leg up on companies like Apple, whose Apple Music doesn’t offer an unpaid tier, but has overtaken Spotify as the most popular on-demand streaming service in the United States, thanks in large part to its strong hardware integrations with other Apple products.
“The release of our new eSDK will change the game for Spotify’s Free users who want to enjoy music on their connected speakers,” senior product director Michael Ericsson said in a press release. “We look forward to supporting our partners over the coming months as they update existing speakers and bring new products to market.”
Currently, Spotify has more than 104 million free users, with about 87 million paying subscribers. In order to grow that base, it will need to continue to focus on creating the best experiences possible for its viewers. So far, it seems like it is putting a lot of time and energy into hardware integrations that will benefit the most people possible — recently re-launching Spotify for Roku connected TV devices, and also announcing an upcoming app for Apple Watch.
No word on when exactly Spotify Connect will launch for free users, but we expect it won’t be long, given that it’s been on the paid side for years.